[Book Rawrview] “Me Before You” or How a Book Changed My View of Life

The year has started with me getting back into reading a lot more and enjoying it more, too. I go through phases when I just get stuck on one book for weeks and it’s not always the book’s fault. I’ve been thinking about how I could integrate that big love of mine into this little blog of mine and finally decided that I’ll write a bit about books that have left an impression with me in one way or another. I thought about simply calling them reviews but make no mistake. I’m not an expert. I’m just a girl who likes to read. I can’t tell you if a book is great, well-written or formerly correct. I can only give you an opinion.

So, say hello to my new little tag, Book Rawrviews.

Books can be a lot of things for me. I don’t really have that one expectation which needs to be fulfilled. It can be mentally challenging or take me to another place and time. It can teach me new things or introduce something new to me. It can move me deeply or just serve as mild entertainment for a while.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

But it is very rare that a book leaves an impression as deep as Me Before You by Jojo Moyes has.

What is it about? Louisa is a plain British girl. She has a simple job which she loves. She has a boyfriend whom she thinks she loves. Her life is simple and without surprises but she doesn’t really mind until she loses her job and starts working for Will.

Will used to be a successful young man who lived life to its fullest. Until his accident, which left him strapped to his wheelchair, unable to even wash himself without help, let alone go on adventures like he used to. Will shows Louisa a whole new life and in return, she tries to leave an impression just as important on him.

What did I think? I’ll be honest with you, the book spent a good year sitting on my shelf. There are many reasons for that. First of all, I bought this book as a part of a 3 for 2-offer from Waterstones and only picked it up because I needed a third book and this seemed vaguely interesting, judging by the blurb. The blurb itself sparks an interest but leaves you with next to no information on what the book really is about. Then Jojo Moyes’ books became a huge hype here in Germany – and anywhere else – and even though I shouldn’t care about that, I don’t like jumping on the bandwagon and reading what everyone else is reading and then have my opinion tainted by everyone else’s. I prefer waiting until things are more quiet and then read it without being told I just have to like it all the time. And finally, the cover! The one I used for this entry is the cover on my copy, too. While I like it a lot, it also suggests that the book is something it really isn’t. I kept thinking that it would be a light read, chick lit, as they call it. And while I have nothing against that – I love me some Sophie Kinsella or Lindsey Kelk! – I really need to be in the mood for a book to enjoy it. I don’t understand how this cover got chosen because it prompts an expectation this book won’t fulfill.

It is by no means a light read. For the first fifty pages or so, it seems like it, despite the mysterious intro, because Louisa seems like such a happy-go-lucky person. The way she is described at first, she’d be the perfect fit for the protagonist role of any chick lit novel. But as the story unravels and when Will comes into play, the plot becomes more and more serious. You learn more about Louisa and her life and that she isn’t as content with her situation as it seems but doesn’t know how to change it.

What impressed me most about this book is also what I don’t want to write about in great detail on here. While it wouldn’t give away the end or be too much of a spoiler, it’s a detail that comes as such a shock and such a plot twist that I feel every reader should experience this first hand. It is, however, a big subject, something that many people feel very strongly about. And also something that will have you think about it over and over again, even after you finish reading. Deliberately or not, you will take a side and come out with a real opinion. And I really like that. There are some books that I close after reading the last page and know I won’t take anything away except that I spent a few hours with a good read. But Me Before You isn’t one of those books. And while I don’t feel like every book needs to be like that, it’s refreshing to be reminded that there are some that can make you think about the story and its characters for a long time after.

And I’ll be honest with you, after I finished the book, I threw it on the floor with an angry huff. But afterwards, I started thinking and I started to feel empowered, like even though I’m not completely happy with the way things are in my life, I am really lucky not to be in a situation I can’t change on my own.

Who should read this book? My first reaction to that question would be “Everyone!” But I don’t really know if everyone would enjoy it. I suppose the writing may be too emotional for some people. People who normally enjoy reading thrillers or scifi with little focus set on the characters’ emotional state may find it hard to understand Louisa. Also, I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to minors, or at least not readers under sixteen because the main subject is quite complex and I don’t know how they would deal with it. There is, however, not a lot of strong language, sexual content or gore in this book.

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